Just a quick note:
The Overland Trails reference page and attached maps are very interesting in learning about the historic progression of the "American Cowboy" and were instrumental in creating the Capt Kirk Memoirs.
The Oregon Trail Map is a huge 10meg PDF file downloaded from US Library of Congress - will take a while to download..... but detail is amazing and worth the wait. Zooming in to 75% shows quality of 1843 original.
The other maps are from Nataional Park Service and also very helpful in understanding the enormity of the westward expansion (very detailed with zoom).
The Cowboy Code:
Live each day with courage.
Take pride in your work.
Always finish what you start.
Do what has to be done.
Be tough, but fair.
When you make a promise, keep it.
Ride for the brand.
Talk less and say more.
A cowboy never betrays a trust. He never goes back on his word.
A cowboy always tells the truth.
A cowboy is kind and gentle to small children, old folks, and animals.
A cowboy is always helpful when someone is in trouble.
If you want to be respected, you must respect others. Show good manners in every way.
Only through hard work and study can you succeed. Don't be lazy.
God put the firewood there, but every man must gather and light it himself.
A man should make the most of what equipment he has.
"This government, of the people, by the people, and for the people," shall live always.
Always respect our flag and our country.
Interesting Cowoby History:
LITTLE KNOWN FAMOUS PEOPLE, Way Out West
By Joe Fasthorse, SASS #48769
Alfred Y. Allee served as Texas Ranger and Deputy Sheriff during his career as a Texas lawman. Born in DeWitt County, Texas in 1855, Allee developed a reputation as a skilled pistol man with a quick temper who shot first and asked questions later. He wouldn’t hesitate to shoot a robber after he had surrendered or kill a prisoner to settle a score.
To prove he was faster on the draw than a fellow Frio County Deputy Sheriff, Allee put eight bullets into the Deputy and left him dead in the dusty street. He was charged with murder, but eye witnesses claimed the dead Deputy had drawn first and Albee went free. In 1888, Allee set out to track down a member of the Bill Whitley gang. Brack Cornett had high-tailed it to Arizona Territory. Allee soon found him there and Cornett was killed, shot from his horse in a running gunfight. Eight years later,
Allee was killed in a barroom knife fight in a Laredo, Texas saloon
HENRIETTA MARIA MORSE CHAMBERLAIN KING was born in 1832 at Boonville, Missouri, the only child of a Presbyterian minister. She moved to Texas in 1850 when her father founded the first Presbyterian Church in Brownsville. In 1854, she married Captain Richard King and moved to the thatched wattle-adobe dwelling on what was to become the famous King Ranch. The original mud and stick jacal house was eventually replaced by the spacious home on the banks of the Santa Gertrudis Creek.
Captain King died in 1885, leaving Henrietta full ownership of his estate, consisting of 600,000 acres of ranch land and a half million dollars in debts. With the help of her son-in-law, Henrietta paid off the debt and increased the size of the ranch in ten years. She ultimately created an empire of over 1,175,000 acres and made the King Ranch “Running W” brand a worldwide symbol. She developed the hardy Santa Gertrudis breed of cattle, experimented in quarter horse
breeding, and discovered innovative dry farming techniques. She donated land and money for railroads, churches, hospitals, schools, and founded the towns of Kingsville and Raymondville.
Henrietta King died on the King Ranch in 1925 and is buried in Kingsville
Turkey Creek Jack Johnson rode with Wyatt Earp when Earp made his legendary Vendetta Ride. Jack was born in Missouri in 1847 and fled that state after he got into a shootout at a local mining town. He showed up in Deadwood, Dakota Territory in 1876 where he pulled his pistols and calmly killed the two men who were trying to shoot him. Later that year, he moved on to Kansas. It was here, in Dodge City, that he became friends with Wyatt Earp. In 1878, Jack joined a cattle drive and ventured into Arizona Territory with Sherman McMasters, Curly Bill Brocius, and Pony Diehl.
In Tombstone, he served as a peace officer along side the Earp brothers. Morgan Earp was murdered in 1882, and Jack went with Wyatt, Doc Holliday, Warren Earp, and Sherman McMasters to see that Morg’s body got safely on the California bound train at Tucson. In Tucson, the Earp party found and killed Frank Stillwell, one of Morgan’s killers. The next day the group was joined by Texas Jack Vermillion and rode out on Earp’s infamous Vendetta Ride. After the Ride, Jack escaped to Colorado, then Texas. He died in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, in 1887
Timothy Isaiah “Longhair Jim” Courtright was born in Illinois in 1848. After the Civil War, he settled in Ft. Worth, Texas and worked at a variety of jobs, including a jailer, a sheriff, a private investigator, a gambler, and a hired killer. Jim was elected town marshal in 1876 and in 1884 was appointed a deputy U.S. Deputy Marshal. During this time, Courtright killed at least five men in shootouts and gained a reputation as being fast ...fast with a gun. Three years later he was providing “protection” to saloons for a price. Those who didn’t sign on were sorry. Now, Luke Short owned the White Elephant Saloon and when Courtright tried to get the former Dodge City gunfighter to sign up, Short told him to go to hell. “I can take care of any situation that calls for gun play,” said Short. The two didn’t get along after that, and they continued to quarrel until Short was called out.
The men met in a face-to-face duel in front of Ella Blackwell’s Shooting Gallery on February 8, 1887. When the smoke cleared, Courtright lay dead in the dusty street with four bullet holes in his chest
Jackson Ellis served simultaneously as an Indian Policeman in the Choctaw Nation and as a U.S. Deputy Marshal in 1885. That year, the lawman had a shootout in Tahlequah, Oklahoma with a desperado named Trainer, and Ellis shot the outlaw dead. In 1887, Ellis attempted to arrest Dick Vann, the man who murdered U.S. Deputy Marshal Sam Sixkiller the year before. When Vann went for his pistol, gunplay erupted and the assassin was left dead in the dust.
Later that year, a young roughneck named Finn murdered his father. When Ellis confronted the killer, again guns flared
and Finn fell — dead before he hit the ground. At another time, Ellis was on a train bound for Texas when bandits
tried to hold up the express car. Ellis killed one outlaw and chased off the rest before they got the gold. Marshal Ellis resigned his duties as a lawman and retired in 1902
Dallas Stoudenmire was in more gunfights than Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Luke Short, or Doc Holiday. Born in 1845, he joined the Confederate Army at age 15. After the war he worked as a farmer, a wheelwright, and a carpenter. In 1881, Dallas became the Town Marshal of El Paso. Three days later, he was involved in one of the most famous gunfights in Old West history, a shoot-out in which Stoudenmire killed cattle rustler Johnny Hale, former town marshal George Campbell, and an innocent bystander. This gunfight made Stoudenmire a legend, but started a feud with the Manning bothers, friends of Campbell and Hale. A few days after the fight, Dallas shot and killed Bill Johnson, a friend of Jim Manning. In the next ten months, the Marshal killed six more men in gun battles.
In 1882, Jim Manning killed Stoudenmire’s brother-in-law, Doc Cummings. After acquittal, Dallas dared him to fight. He
refused. Three months later Stoudenmire resigned to take possession of the Globe Cafe. But, the Manning feud continued, and before 1882 ended Dallas was shot dead in a duel with Jim and Doc Manning. Dallas Stoudenmire is
buried in Colorado County, Texas
Luke Short was born in 1854 and moved from Mississippi to Texas. After cutting up a school bully, Luke left home to work as an Army scout, a whiskey peddler, a cowboy on the cattle drives to Kansas, and a professional gambler. He played poker with Bat Masterson in Nebraska and met Wyatt Earp in Dodge City. He moved to Tombstone when
it was a wide-open boomtown. By this time he had gained the reputation as being fast with a gun, a man of few words, a fancy dresser, and a friend of the undertaker.
In 1881 he killed the gunfighter, Charlie Storms, following an earlier argument that was reconciled by Bat Masterson,
a friend of both men. When they met outside the Oriental Saloon, Storms went for his pistol. Short shot him in the chest at close range, setting Storm’s shirt on fire. “You pick the damnedest friends, Bat,” Luke was said to say.
In 1883, Short was half owner in the Long Branch Saloon at Dodge City. Later, he moved to Fort Worth with an
interest in the White Elephant Saloon. Longhair Jim Courtright was Marshal and ran a protection racket. When Jim offered “protection” to the White Elephant, Luke refused. They argued. Courtright issued a challenge, and Luke shot him dead.
Luke Short died peacefully at Geuda Springs, Kansas in 1893
Baxter Warren Earp was Wyatt’s little brother. He was the youngest of the six Earp boys, which included Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil, James, and Newton. Warren was born in 1855 at Pella, Iowa. He joined his brothers at Tombstone in 1880, but was visiting his parents in California at the time of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. When Virgil was ambushed in December of ‘81 and Morgan was murdered in March of ‘82, Warren returned to Tombstone in time to ride with Wyatt and the posse that killed Frank Stillwell in Tucson. A week later, Warren joined the Vendetta to ride down and kill the other Cowboys that murdered Morgan and maimed Virgil.
Warren then left Tombstone for Colorado, but returned to Arizona in 1891. In July of 1900, he argued with Johnnie Boyett at Brown’s Saloon in Willcox. As the fuss progressed, Warren said, “Get your gun, Johnnie, and we’ll settle this right here.” Boyett left the saloon and returned with two .45 caliber Colts. He called Warren out and shot him dead
in the dusty street. Ironically, Earp was unarmed, but Boyett was never charged.
Isaac “Ike” Rogers was a black Cherokee Indian related to the father of Will Rogers, the famous comedian in the 1930s. As a U.S. Deputy Marshal, Rogers served under “Hanging” Judge Isaac Parker to keep the peace in western Arkansas and the entire Indian Territory of present-day Oklahoma. Ike often worked with U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, the first African American to receive a commission as a Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River. At Bartlesville, Oklahoma on January 21, 1893, Ike was involved in a gunfight with the Cherokee outlaw Henry Starr and his gang. Two years later, Ike captured African Cherokee outlaw Crawford “Cherokee Bill” Goldsby, who when led from his cell to the gallows on March 17, 1896, was asked if he had any final words. Goldsby said, “No!
I came here to die, not to make a speech. This is a good a day to die.” Isaac “Ike” Rogers was killed in 1897 at Fort Gibson by Clarence Goldsby, Cherokee Bill’s brother.
Big Steve Long spent several years building a reputation as one of the Old West’s earliest gunfighters before he and his half-brothers founded the Bucket of Blood Saloon in Laramie, Wyoming in the 1860s. Long was elected Deputy Marshal in 1867 and killed eight men in shootouts within the first two months. In one incident, he opened fire on several men during a street brawl and killed five of them. He rarely arrested anyone. His victims either backed-down or were shot-down. Long and his brothers, Ace and Con Moyer, used their strong-arm influence to force local ranchers into signing over to them the deeds to their property. Those that refused were killed. In one year, Long killed thirteen men in gunfights and was believed to have murdered seven others.
In 1868, Long tried to rob prospector “Hard-Luck” Harrison. A gunfight erupted. Long was wounded and Harrison
was killed. When the townspeople learned what happened and declared enough is enough, they stormed the Bucket of Blood, overwhelmed Long and his brothers, led them to an unfinished cabin in town, and lynched all three. Only Long had a last request. “Mother always said I’d die with my boots on. Can I take em’ off?” The note on the back of a photo taken of the three hanging from the cabin rafters read: “Gunfighter Big Steve Long, Con Moyer, Ace Moyer. A lynching in Laramie Wyoming, 1868 — Con and Ace were founders of Laramie.”
JIM LEVY is the only known Jewish gunfighter. Born in Ireland in 1842, he and his family immigrated to America in 1856. Soon young Jim went west and mined for gold in the rip-roaring town of Pioche, Nevada. In 1870, he saw Mike Casey gun down Tom Gasson at the Midnight Star Saloon. Before he died, Gasson offered $5,000 to the man who could kill Casey. Levy killed Casey, but was shot in the face in the fight. He got the $5,000 dollars, but was hideously scarred for life.
Jim quit mining and drifted for the next ten years as a professional gambler. His disfigured face did nothing to curb his quick temper, and he survived at least 18 shootouts, earning the reputation as a “Pistolferous Gambler.” At Cheyenne in 1877, Levy was in a high stakes card game at Shingle & Locke’s Saloon with a local gunfighter named Charlie Harrison.
There was an argument. Charlie called Levy a low-down Irish mongrel. Guns blazed, and Harrison fell dead.
In 1882, Jim and John Murphy were whooping it up at the Fashion Saloon in Tucson. They quarreled. Tempers flared. Gunplay was threatened, but neither man was armed. John stormed out, but Jim continued to drink and gamble. When Levy left later that night, Murphy was waiting outside with a pistol. Three shots rang out, and Jim died instantly,
unaware and unarmed. Murphy was arrested, escaped, and was never seen in Tucson again.
Mar 2012 James Luke “Whispering Smith” remained in the Mississippi River area after serving as a sailor on a U.S. Navy gunboat in the War Between the States. He held a position on the New Orleans police force until he was involved in a shooting that caused a scandal and had to leave town in a hurry. He hightailed it west and was hired by the Union Pacific as a railroad detective. While working in the Cheyenne and Black Hills area, he shot six desperadoes and helped lynch two others. Later, as Chief of Indian Police at the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico, Luke captured several, and shot four outlaw tribal members. It was here Smith unsuccessfully challenged Pat Garrett to a duel. Smith went to Wyoming and took a detective job with the Stock Growers Association, where he had a hand in half a dozen lynchings. In the 1890s, Whispering Smith was hired as security officer by the Pleasant Valley Coal Company at Castle Gate in Utah. Now the Castle Gate area was alive with outlaws. When Butch Cassidy robbed the Pleasant Valley payroll, Smith and “Doc” Shores pursued the gang without success. And when J.W. Warf and M.P. Braffet, local attorneys, sponsored “Gunplay” Maxwell, a known rustler for Deputy Sheriff, Smith launched a successful attempt to stop them. This campaign started a feud that ended in a three-way gunfight. Smith won the face-off, but lost his Pleasant Valley job. Smith moved on to Denver and was hired by a newspaper editor to run Bat Masterson out of town. After this showdown, Smith wound up at Buena Vista as a prison guard. After he shot and killed a prisoner trying to escape, he retired to Denver. Whispering Smith committed suicide in 1914. Apr 2012 William “Bill” Colbert was born in 1835 of African and Choctaw Indian ancestry. He served as a U.S. Deputy Marshal in Arkansas, working out of Fort Smith. He was assigned to the Choctaw Nation because he had hands-on knowledge of the Indian customs, was fluent in their language, and knew the land. Bill also was quick with a gun. When he tried to arrest a murderer named Bill Alexander, the killer resisted arrest and Colbert killed him. The Marshal again was forced to kill Jackson Fletcher when the outlaw decided to fight. Colbert and U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves were chasing the Christian Gang, who was wanted for killing an Oklahoma City police chief. The lawmen lost Christian’s trail but came across two other fugitives named Will Stevenson and Dick Sanger. The outlaws opened fire on the officers. Guns flared and Stevenson was killed. Sanger was taken prisoner and later hanged. Bill Colbert killed twenty-one men in the line of duty while serving as a U.S. Deputy Marshal. In 1908 Colbert was arrested in McAlester, Oklahoma and charged with armed robbery, but the charges were dropped. Bill died at Atoka, Oklahoma in 1933 at the age of 98. May 2012 Bryan Marsh was born at Alabama in 1833, but moved to Texas in 1854. During the War Between the States, he served as a Captain in the Texas Cavalry. Captain Marsh was one of 4,500 CSA men attacked by 30,000 Federals at Arkansas in 1863. He was taken prisoner there, but exchanged months later. He was wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church at Georgia in 1864, which resulted in the loss of his right arm. But this did not stop him from returning to the fight until Lee surrendered. After the war, Marsh became a Captain in the Texas Rangers. In 1881, Bryan’s Company of Rangers quelled a riot in San Angelo. A black soldier from Ft. Concho was shot and killed, creating a conflict between soldiers and townspeople. Rumors that the killer had been set free sent fifty soldiers into town for revenge. Marsh met with a Ft. Concho Army Colonel and peace was restored. As a Texas Ranger, Captain Marsh captured and killed lawbreakers, ended gunplay in railroad towns and fought hostile Indians. Here’s what fellow Ranger Jeff Milton had to say about his Captain, “… he would drink right smart and scrap right smart. He was an old Confederate War Horse with one arm shot off at the shoulder. But, he would fight his shadow; wasn’t afraid of anything.” When Bryan Marsh left the Texas Rangers, he became sheriff of Smith County for the next 20 years. He died at Tyler, Texas in 1901. Jun 2012 SUSAN McSween was the Cattle Queen of New Mexico. She was brash, opinionated, independent, and unrelenting. She possessed an iron will and self-righteous temper and was, in the words of an admirer, a TIGER. Born Susan Hummer at Gettysburg in 1845, she left Pennsylvania in 1865 and headed west. Sue married Alex McSween in 1873 and the couple moved from Kansas to Lincoln, New Mexico in 1875. Two years later Alex, John Tunstall and John Chisum formed a rival corporation that challenged the sovereignty of the local Murphy-Dolan organization. This caused considerable discord between the two factions, and in 1878 gunmen of the Murphy-Dolan camp killed John Tunstall. Tunstall’s murder started the Lincoln County War, a feud which involved outlaws like Jesse Evans and John Kinney for the Murphy-Dolan alliance and Charlie Bowdre and Billy the Kid for the Tunstall-McSween union. Guns flared and people were killed on both sides. Hostilities climaxed with the Battle of Lincoln at which Sue and Alex were present. Unarmed, Alex was shot dead in the street when he tried to surrender. After the War, the widow managed her slain husband’s property and slowly built a cattle empire. By 1891, Susan ran 8,000 head of cattle on her Tres Rios Ranch. A white-walled adobe home, filled with books, pictures, and fine china was her pride and joy. In 1897, she sold a half-interest in her ranch at a nice profit. In 1917 she sold the rest and moved to a home in White Oaks. Susan Mc-Sween died in 1931 and is buried at White Oaks Cedarvale Cemetery.
James “Jim” Masterson was a fearless lawman involved in more shootouts than his more famous brother. Born in Canada in 1855, Jim moved Wichita, Kansas in 1870 with his bothers, Bat and Ed. By 1878 the brothers were in Dodge City. Jim was running a saloon. Ed served as Town Marshal. Bat was Sheriff of Ford County. When Ed was murdered by Jack Wagner, he was replaced by Charlie Bassett with Jim Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and James Earp as Deputies. When a cowboy named George Hoy shot up the Comique Variety Hall, Jim and Wyatt returned fire and killed him.
Masterson was promoted to Town Marshal in 1879, and for the next two years he made several hundred arrests at gunpoint and killed at least two law breakers. A new mayor was elected in 1881 and Jim lost his job. Two weeks later he had a run-in with A.J. Peacock, his saloon partner, who had hired Al Updegraph as bartender. Jim and Bat confronted Peacock and Updegraph. Gunfire broke out and Updegraph was killed. Jim then moved to Trinidad, Colorado and as Constable, he engaged in a stand up gunfight with John Allen.
In 1885 he was a sheriff in New Mexico and in 1889 took part in the Gray County Seat War in Kansas. As a Deputy US Marshal in 1893, Masterson took part in the gunfight at Inglles, Oklahoma against the Doolin gang and captured “Arkansas Tom” Jones single-handed. Jim died of consumption in 1895.
Oliver Milton Lee was born in 1865 in Texas, but spent most of his life in New Mexico. During Lee’s life and times he was a Deputy U.S. Marshal, a rancher, a gunman, and a state Senator. He was a crack shot with any weapon and an expert with a pistol in either hand. In 1884, he and his brother Perry bought a ranch in Dog Canyon (near present day Alamogordo, New Mexico) and founded the Circle Cross brand, which still exists. When Lee sold his ranch, his holdings had grown to over a million acres.
But growth wasn’t easy on the western frontier. Owners of larger ranches tried to limit the growth of smaller ranchers. Squabbles led to gunfights, and Lee was involved in many of them. In 1895, Col. Albert Jennings Fountain, a large landowner, set off a range war when he swore out warrants for Oliver Lee, Jim Gilliland, Bill McNew, and 23 other small ranchers. The charge was cattle rustling. Weeks later, Fountain and his 8-year-old son disappeared. Oliver, Jim, and Bill were suspected of murder. They were chased and overtaken at Wildy Wells by Sheriff Pat Garrett. A gun battle broke out, and Deputy Kurt Kearney was killed before the posse withdrew. Lee knew he would never get to trial if he gave himself up to Garrett, so he didn’t surrender until his good friend, George Curry, was appointed Sheriff of Otero County. Charges against McNew were dismissed. Lee and Gilliland were acquitted. None of the other ranchers were indicted. The bodies were never found.
Oliver Lee later held office in the New Mexico Senate, and continued operating the Circle Cross Ranch & Cattle Company. He died quietly in 1941, at age 76. He had nine children and seven grandchildren. Several descendants still live and ranch in New Mexico.
John Pinckney “Pink” Calhoun Higgins was born in Georgia in 1848, but grew up in Texas. He learned to ride and shoot on the family ranch at Lampasas, and was among the first cowboys to join the earliest cattle drives from Texas to Kansas. As a frontier cowboy, he fought hostile Indians, hung horse thieves, and shot cattle rustlers.
In 1873, five Horrell brothers killed five Lampasas lawmen and hightailed it for New Mexico, where they robbed and killed another 15. The next year they were back. In 1876 Pink accused them of cattle rustling, which led to the “Horrell-Higgins Feud.” In January 1877, Pink killed Merritt Horrell in a shootout at the Gem Saloon. His brothers swore vengeance. Two months later, Tom and Mart Horrell were ambushed and wounded. Higgins was a suspect.
In June the Horrells and several friends challenged Pink and four relatives in what is known as “The Lampasas Square Shoot Out.” When the smoke cleared, two of Horrell’s friends and one of Pink’s relatives lay dead. In September, Pink caught a Horrell cowboy stealing cattle. The cowboy drew his gun, and Pink killed him. A year later, Tom and Mart were assassinated. Higgins was a suspect. The last Horrell left town. This effectively ended the feud.
While in Mexico in 1882, Pink killed a Mexican and made a running gunfight to the border. After 1885, Pink worked as a “Protection Man,” which entailed participation in several gunfights and hangings. The last man Pink killed was in 1904, after an ongoing dispute. Higgins is believed to have killed fourteen men in his lifetime. Asked about this, he said, “I didn’t kill all them men, but I got some that wasn’t on the list, so I guess it just about evens up.” Pink Higgins died of heart failure in 1914.
DAVID MONTICELLO “BUD” BALLEW was a feared gunfighter and lawman in the early 1900’s. Bud was born in 1877 and left his family for the Oklahoma Indian Territory in 1890. By 1910 he had a ranch, a wife, and two sons. In 1914 Sheriff Buck Garrett offered him the job of Deputy Sheriff, and the next year Bud made headlines when he broke up a holdup, killing the robber Pete Bynum in a stand up fight. Ballew was then sent to arrest an outlaw named Steve Talkington. Talkington resisted arrest. Ballew killed him. Then he went to retrieve the reward from Jim Highnote, the City Marshal. Highnote refused to give Bud the reward, so Ballew killed him, too. As he was taking a prisoner named James Pearl to prison, the prisoner tried to escape. Bud fired and Pearl died. When Arch Campbell challenged Bud, Arch lost his life. In a firefight with a highwayman named Miller, Bud shot first and straight and Miller fell dead.
His most noted gunfight happened in 1919 between Bud and former U.S. Deputy Marshal Dow Braziel. When Bud entered the California Cafe, Dow fired two shots at him and missed. Ballew returned the fire, hitting Braziel six times. In 1922 Bud visited Wichita Falls, Texas. Police Chief J.W. McCormick got word that Ballew was in town drinking, armed, and raising hell. The Chief approached Bud and advised him he was under arrest for disturbing the peace. Bud said, “You’re out of luck” and reached for his pistol. McCormick fired five shots, and Ballew was dead when he hit the floor. Examination of the body showed all five shots in the back and one bullet from a different caliber pistol than Mc-Cormick’s. Sheriff Buck Garrett claimed “Bud Ballew was murdered—five shots, and all in the back. He didn’t have a chance.” No one was ever prosecuted
EDWARD CAPEHART O’KELLY is the man who killed Bob Ford — the man who murdered Jesse James for the reward money. O’Kelly grew up in a time when guerrilla wars divided the border states during the War Between The States. In 1892 Bob Ford opened a saloon in the rip-roaring mining town of Creede, Colorado. On opening day, Ed O’Kelly strode into the saloon, said, “Hey Bob,” and killed Bob Ford with a blast from a 12-gauge shotgun. After the shooting, O’Kelly showed up in Oklahoma City and could frequently be found at the saloons where known criminals regularly hung out. In 1903 Officer Joe Burnett arrested Ed as a suspicious character. After his release he was often heard to say he was gunning for Burnett.
In early 1904 Burnett was walking his beat when O’Kelly approached the officer and threatened to kill him. A life and death struggle followed. O’Kelly fired six shots that missed, but Burnett shot Ed dead with two shots. Ed O’Kelly was buried in a casket provided by the county at a cost to taxpayers of $12.48
JAMES PIERSON BECKWOURTH was born in 1798 at Frederick, Virginia and died in 1866 at Denver, Colorado. His father was Jennings Beckwith, a descendant of Irish and English nobility, and his mother was an African-mulatto slave. During his life Jim was a mountain man, a fur trader, a scout, and an explorer. Jennings Beckwith took Jim to Missouri in 1809 and raised him as his son. In 1824, Jim joined the Rocky Mountain Trading Company and gained fame as a mountain man and Indian fighter. In 1827, Beckwourth was captured by the Crow Indians. They thought he was the lost son of a Crow Chief and accepted him in the Nation. For the next nine years, Beckwourth lived with the Crow Tribes, rose from warrior to the highest-ranking War Chief, and led raids on Blackfoot bands, traditional enemy of the Crow. In 1837 Jim volunteered for the Florida Indian Wars and fought the Seminoles. In 1840, he built a trading post in Colorado, the kernel for the city of Pueblo. In 1846, he fought in the Mexican War and two years later joined the California Gold Rush. Jim discovered the Beckwourth Pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and built a ranch, trading post, and hotel in the Sierra Valley that became Beckwourth, California. Jim joined Col. John Chivington in the Cheyenne-Arapaho campaign in 1864.
The action resulted in the disgraceful Sand Creek Massacre in which over 100 friendly Cheyenne men, women, and children were slaughtered. Beckwourth returned to the Crow village in 1866 and died on October 29 with severe nose bleeds. Some people claimed the Crow Indians killed Beckwourth, but no supporting facts were ever found
JOE MEEK was born in Washington County, Virginia in 1810. At the age of 18, he joined the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and for the next ten years explored the Rocky Mountains as a fur trapper. In 1829, Meek was one of the first white men to see the boiling springs, geysers, and craters of burning gases at what is now Yellowstone National Park. Nine years later he went west to Idaho, where he married the daughter of a Nez Perce Indian Chief. In 1840, Meek decided to join his trapper friends in Oregon. On the way there, he met a group of pioneers who were also headed for Oregon, and he agreed to guide them.
They became the first settlers to make it as far west as the Whitman Mission on the Oregon Trail. In 1841, Meek settled in the Tualatin Valley and in 1843 he was appointed Sheriff. Four years later Cayuse and Umatilla Indians went on the warpath and raided the Whitman Mission. The war party killed the entire Whitman family and Joe’s ten-year-old daughter. Meek went to Washington, D.C. with the news of the killings. He met with President James Polk (whose wife was Meek’s cousin) and successfully argued for the need to make the Oregon Country a Federal Territory. The next year Oregon became a U.S. Territory and Meek was appointed Territorial Federal Marshal. The first thing the Marshal did was execute the Cayuse Indians found guilty of the Whitman Massacre. As a Major in the Oregon Volunteers, he led his men to victory in the Yakima Indian Wars.
Joe Meek died in 1875 at the age of 65 and is buried at the Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church in Washington County, Oregon. It was Meek’s fervent wish to live long enough to see Oregon securely American, so he could say he was born in Washington County, USA and died in Washington County, USA.
JAMES MILLER was born in 1866 in Arkansas. Miller’s parents died when he was four, and he was sent to live with his grandparents in Texas. He was orphaned again at age eight when his grandparents were murdered in their bed. The boy was suspected of the crime, but not prosecuted. His sister and her husband, John, took Jim into their home and raised him. In 1884 Jim killed John and was sentenced to life in prison, but the conviction was overturned.
Next, Jim then went to work for Mannen Clements, a cousin of Texas gunman Wes Hardin. In 1887, Clements was killed by Marshal Joe Townsend. The
Marshal was later shot by an assassin wielding a shotgun. In 1891 Jim married Mannen Clements’ daughter and became Town Marshal of Pecos. A running feud with Pecos Sheriff Bud Frazer led to a 1894 shootout. Guns blazed and Jim’s life was saved by a steel plate he wore under his coat. Frazer lost reelection and moved to New Mexico, but returned later to visit his sister. Miller found Frazer gambling in the saloon, sneaked in, and shot off half his head with a shotgun. Miller was arrested. Joe Earp testified against him at the trial. Miller was acquitted. Later, Earp was killed by a shotgun blast and the prosecuting D A died of food poisoning.
In 1900 Killer Miller billed himself as a professional assassin. He killed two men that year. In 1902 he killed two more men. In 1904 he killed Frank Fore,and he murdered Jim Jarott for a $500 fee. Miller was paid $1200 to kill Ben Collins in 1906. Two years later, he supposedly shot ex-lawman Pat Garrett from ambush. Wayne Brazel was tried for the murder, but was acquitted. For $1700 in 1909, Miller murdered Gus Bobbitt. He was arrested and charged with murder, but before his trial a mob stormed the jail and lynched him. “Let ‘er rip!” Jim said, and stepped off the box on which he stood.
CHRIS MADSEN was born in Denmark in 1851. He joined the Danish Army, served in the French Foreign Legion and fought with Garibaldi in Italy. He came to America in 1876, joined the U.S. Cavalry and for the next 15 years waged war against hostile plains Indians.
In 1891 Chris became a U.S. Deputy Marshal in the Oklahoma Territory. He worked with Bill Tilghman and Heck Thomas. They became famous as the “Three Guardsmen.” The Guardsmen arrested or killed more than 300 outlaws and brought down the Doolin-Dalton gang. Madsen personally killed gang members Dynamite Dick Clifton and Little Dick West.
In 1896, Chris heard that the bandit Red Wreit was hiding out in Oklahoma. Madsen’s posse found Wreit and ordered him to throw
up his hands. The outlaw came out shooting. Madsen fired once and Red fell dead.
In 1898 Madsen joined the Rough Riders and fought shoulder-to-shoulder with Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba. After the War, Chris returned to Oklahoma and in 1911 was appointed U.S. Deputy Marshal for the entire state. Chris Madsen died in 1944 at the age of 93.
Harvey “KID CURRY” Logan was born in Iowa, in 1867. Harvey and his bothers, Lonny, Johnny, and Henry, were orphaned in 1876, and went to live with their Aunt in Missouri. Harvey left for Wyoming in 1888. The next year Lonny, Johnny, and cousin Bob Lee showed up and the four joined “Flat Nose” George Curry and his gang of rustlers at Hole in the Wall. Harvey became Kid Curry and rode with Black Jack Ketchum, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid. Curry was considered the “fastest gun in the West” and became known as the Tiger of the Wild Bunch.
Kid Curry killed at least ten men in five shootouts and four more in cold blood. He once rode 200 miles to kill a rancher who informed on him. The ladies loved Kid Curry. After he became famous, dozens of women claimed he was the father of their babies, but he probably fathered fewer than five. When Effie Landusky got pregnant, Pike Landusky blamed Kid Curry. Kid Curry shot him dead.
Johnny was killed in a Montana shootout in 1896 and Lonny was cut down at Utah in 1900. Three months later, Kid Curry rode into Moab, Utah and shot down Sheriff Jesse Tyler and Deputy Sam Jenkins in retaliation for them killing Lonny. In 1901, Kid Curry returned to Montana and murdered rancher James Winters, who had killed Johnny in 1896.
When Kid Curry robbed a train outside Parachute, Colorado in 1904, he was tracked down by a posse and wounded in the firefight that followed. A single shot rang out during a lull in the battle. Kid Curry had shot himself in the head. He was buried at Linwood Cemetery in Glenwood Springs, Colorado near fellow gunfighter, Doc Holliday.
Nat “Deadwood Dick” Love was a cowboy, rodeo performer, Pullman porter, and author. Nat was born a Tennessee slave in 1854. When slavery ended,
he discovered he had a natural talent for breaking wild horses. In 1869, he headed west. When he reached Dodge City, Kansas, he joined the outfit of the Texas-based Duval Ranch. The crew had driven a herd up to the Kansas railhead. Nat quickly earned a reputation as the best all-around cowboy.
He was made Ranch cattle buyer. This job often took him to Mexico, and he soon became fluent in Spanish.
In 1872, he moved to the Gallinger Ranch in Arizona. Here, he traveled many western trails and fought Indians, rustlers, and bandits. In 1876,
Gallinger Ranch delivered a herd of steers to Deadwood, South Dakota. The cowboys arrived just in time for the July 4th Celebration. One scheduled event included a $200 prize. Cowboys competed in roping, branding, and shooting. Nat won the $200 and the nickname “Deadwood Dick.” The next year Nat was captured in Arizona by Pima Indians. He claimed his life was spared because the Indians respected his fighting ability. Soon after being captured, he stole a pony and escaped into West Texas. Love spent the latter part of his life working as a Pullman porter on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. He died in Los Angeles in 1921 at the age of 67.
“Mounted on my horse my ... lariat near my hand, and my trusty guns
in my belt … I felt like I could defy the world.” ~ Nat Love, 1871
Buckskin Frank” Leslie was a lawman, a gambler, and a killer. He was born in Texas in 1842. At 27, he was an Army scout in Texas, Oklahoma, and the Dakotas. Ten years later he was a bartender at the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona. While there, Frank fell in love with a beauty named Mary Killeen. But Mary was married to Mike Killeen. When Mike caught the lovers together one night, he shot at Frank and missed. Frank fired back. Mike was hit twice and died the next day. Two weeks later, Frank and Mary were married.
In 1882, a drunk named Billy Claiborne entered the Oriental and threatened patrons. Leslie grabbed Claiborne and kicked him out. Later, Leslie heard that Claiborne was waiting outside. When Frank stepped out, Billy shot at him and missed. Leslie shot back, and Claiborne fell dead.
In 1884, Frank scouted for the Fourth Cavalry during the Apache uprisings. Frank and Mary divorced in 1887, and Frank moved in with a prostitute named “Blonde Mollie” Williams. One night, in 1890, Frank saw Mollie with his friend “Six-Shooter Jim” O’Neil. In a jealous rage he killed Mollie and wounded Jim. Frank received 25 years in Yuma Prison for Molly’s murder. He served eight years. After trying his hand at prospecting for gold in Alaska, “Buckskin Frank” Leslie moved to California, where he died drunk and penniless in 1930.
Tom Threepersons was a Cherokee lawman. He was one of the last gunfighters of the Old West. Threepersons was born in the Indian Territory in 1889 and moved to Montana with his family, and the family of his friend Bill White, in 1905. In 1907, both boys’ fathers were killed during a fight with cattle rustlers. Threepersons tracked the killers to a saloon and
killed them in a shootout.
Tom and Bill joined the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, and were assigned to capture a gang of outlaws who had murdered an entire family. The two tracked the outlaws through deep snow to the Yukon River, and on the fifth day caught up with the three killers. A gunfight erupted and Bill White and one desperado were killed. The other two bandits fled. Threepersons buried White and continued after the outlaws. Three days later Tom located the cabin where they were hiding out and a shootout ensued. Both outlaws were killed.
In his career with the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, Threepersons was involved in numerous shootouts, once killing three robbers during a failed bank holdup, and later foiling a
train robbery. In 1912 he left the force. He joined the U.S. Army in 1916 and chased Pancho Villa in Mexico. He was discharged from the army in 1920. In 1922, Tom killed four more men in two firefights at El Paso, Texas. Threepersons died in Arizona in 1969, and is buried in Silver City, New Mexico
Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton was a cowboy, a scout, an Indian fighter, and a Deputy U.S. Marshal. Pete was born in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut. At the age of eight, he moved with his family to Kansas. That year, Frank’s father was shot down by six killers who rode with Quantrill during the War Between the States. His father’s friend said to the boy, “May your father’s curse be upon you if you don’t avenge his murder.” It would take Frank nineteen years to avenge his father’s death. At age fifteen, Eaton decided to visit Fort Gibson to learn how to handle a gun. He competed with the Army’s best sharpshooters and beat them all. After this feat, Frank was known as “Pistol Pete.”
Pistol Pete’s career as a Deputy U.S. Marshal began in Oklahoma when he was seventeen. He was said to pack the fastest guns in the Indian Territory. Frank immediately started tracking down his father’s killers, and by 1887 he had killed five of them. The sixth was shot by someone else. Pete would serve as either a marshal, a sheriff, or a deputy sheriff until late in life. By the end of his career, he had eleven notches on his gun. Pistol Pete died in 1958 at the age of 97. He is buried at the Perkins Cemetery in Oklahoma
THOMAS “BEAR RIVER” SMITH was born in 1830. He tamed the rip-roaring cowtown of Abilene, Kansas when he took the job as Town Marshal in 1869. He was a fearless lawman who preferred to keep the peace without resorting to gunplay. However, he always wore two pistols in plain sight so lawbreakers would know he meant business.
Smith was able to handle most hard cases with his bare hands. When Big Hank Hawkins and Wyoming Will got drunk and rowdy, Smith beat both men at the same time and ran them out of town. In 1870, Andrew Mc-Connell and Moses Miles murdered Jack Shea. Smith attempted to arrest them and a gunfight erupted. Bear River was shot in the chest, but
before he went down, he killed McConnell.
While Smith lay unconscious, Miles grabbed an ax and cut off the lawman’s head. The citizens of Abilene erected an inscribed monument in Smith’s honor. “A Fearless Hero of
Frontier Days Who in Cowboy Chaos Established the Supremacy of Law.” Marshal Bear River Smith was replaced by the legendary lawman, “Wild Bill” Hickok
John Edwin Bull was born in England and first appeared on the American frontier in the early1860s. In 1862, he was in Gold Creek, Montana on the trail of three horse thieves. Bull found the bandits in a saloon and ordered them to throw up their hands and surrender. Guns roared and one outlaw was killed. The other two surrendered and were tried the next day. One was found not guilty, and the other was sentenced to hang.
In 1866, Bull arrived in Virginia City, Nevada where he formed a gambling partnership with Langford “Farmer” Peel. The partners argued and separated, but later that year they were working together again in Helena, Montana. However, while the two were gambling at the Exchange Saloon, the previous argument was rekindled. Peel slapped Bull in the face and pulled his Colt .45. Bull stated, “I am unarmed.” Peel told Bull he should arm himself. Bull went to his room, got his gun, and returned to the saloon. Peel had left the saloon and was walking on Main Street with Belle Neil, when they met Bull. Peel went for his gun. So did Bull. Bull was faster and shot Peel first. Bull fired again and Peel fell face down in the street. Bull walked up and fired a third round into Peel’s head. A jury failed to convict and Bull went free. He immediately left Helena.
In 1868, Bull married Lilly Lowe and moved with her to Chicago, Illinois. They had two children. Lilly died in 1872 and Bull placed his children in foster homes. Bull moved on to Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876 and by 1879 he had settled in Denver, Colorado. Over the next few years his name appeared often in police reports. He once was arrested for knocking a policeman unconscious with a walking stick. In 1898, Bull was in Spokane, Washington with a friend named Frisky Barnett. As the two men talked, Barnett jammed his lit cigar into Bull’s eye for reasons unknown. Bull screamed and pulled his pistol. Barnett went for his own gun and the two men began firing. When the shooting stopped, Barnett was missing a finger and Bull had been shot four times. Bull was expected to die, but he recovered.
John Bull died in 1929 at the age of 93.
JOHN HICKS ADAMS was a 49’er, a rancher, a Sheriff, a Deputy US Marshal, and a feared gunfighter. Born in Illinois in 1820, he became Sheriff of Madison County in 1838. John joined the Army in 1846. He served most of his time fighting Indians in the Southwest and was discharged in 1848.
When gold was discovered in California in 1849, John went west to Hangtown where he stayed until 1853, when he moved to a ranch near Gilroy. In 1863, John was elected Sheriff of Santa Clara County. When a band of Confederate partisans robbed two stagecoaches and killed a Deputy near Placerville, Sheriff Adams heard the outlaws were holed up in a shack near Almaden. He and his posse surrounded the shack and demanded their surrender. The robbers refused and tried to escape. A shoot-out ensued. All the bandits were killed, and John was wounded in the fight.
In 1865, Adams and a posse of nine soldiers and five citizens pursued the M a s o n – H e n r y Gang, a vicious gang of outlaws committing robberies and murders in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Counties. The posse, led by Sheriff Adams, searched the area around the Panoche Valley after receiving a tip the gang was hiding there. However, when the posse arrived at Panoche, Mason
and Henry had beaten a hasty retreat, and despite several running firefights, they were not caught and soon fled to Southern California.
Adams was instrumental in the search and capture of the highwayman Tiburcio Vasquez. Vasquez was caught in Los Angeles and hung at the Santa Clara County Jail. Adams finished his last term as Sheriff in March 1876. Two years later he was appointed Deputy US Marshal for the Arizona Territory. Two weeks later he was ambushed near Tucson and killed by Mexican bandits. They escaped to Mexico and were never prosecuted.
HENRY ANDREW “HECK” THOMAS was born in 1850 in Athens, Georgia. He served as a Confederate courier in the War Between the States when he was only 12 years old. Heck went to Texas in 1875 and was hired as a Railroad Detective. Thomas soon earned the reputation among outlaws as a man to avoid. In 1886, he was appointed U.S. Deputy Marshal at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Three years later, Thomas teamed with Deputy U.S. Marshals Chris Madsen and Bill Tilghman to become known as “The Guardsmen of klahoma.” Over the next ten years, they brought law and order to the Indian Territory. The Guardsmen captured over 300 lawbreakers and killed dozens of outlaws. Thomas led the posse that tracked down and killed the notorious outlaw Bill Doolin. When the citizens of Lawton, Oklahoma needed help in 1896, they sent for Thomas, and he cleaned up the town. They elected him Police Chief, and he held that position for seven years.
The 1908 movie “The Bank Robbery” featured Heck Thomas, Al Jennings, and Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, and was directed by Bill
Tilghman. Heck Thomas died in 1912.
JESSE LEE HALL was born on October 9, 1849 in Lexington, North Carolina. In 1869, he took a job as a schoolteacher in Sherman,
Texas and for the next seven years he held positions in Texas towns as Deputy Marshal of Sherman, Deputy Sheriff for Denison, and as a Sergeant at Arms for the State Senate. In August of 1876, Hall joined the Texas Rangers. He served under Ranger legend Leander
McNelly, and his first challenge was to solve a recent Goliad bank holdup. Hall and his posse tracked the robbers to Mexico, surrounded the gang, killed four, and scattered the rest. McNelly became severely ill in October, and Hall took command. As
Captain, he and his Rangers quelled the famous Sutton-Taylor Feud. Three months later, Hall split his forces to battle cattle rustlers
along the Rio Grande and simultaneously wage war on the Texas gunfighter, King Fisher, and his band of killers. Jesse retired in 1880
and joined the fight against fence cutters in the Fence Cutting War. He was an agent for the Anadarko Indians, served in the Spanish-
American War, and saw service as a scout in the Philippine Islands.
Hall died in San Antonio in 1911 and is buried there at the National Cemetery. Jesse Lee Hall is a member of the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame.
William “Buffalo Bill” Brooks was born in Ohio in 1835. He became a buffalo hunter at age 18 and earned the nickname Buffalo Bill. By the time he was 25, Bill had already killed seven men and gained a reputation as a feared gunfighter.
From 1860 until 1872, Brooks drove a stagecoach for the Southwestern Stage Company and served as Town Marshal at Newton,
Kansas. His success as a lawman in Newton won him a position as Town Marshal of Dodge City. During his first month as Marshal, Bill killed a dozen more men in standup gunfights. One of the men he shot down had four brothers. When they came to Dodge City for revenge, the peace officer killed all four men. By the following year Brooks had cleared the town of lawbreakers. However, he proceeded to kill several men under suspicious circumstances and was forced to resign. Brooks returned to his old job as stagecoach driver, but when the Southwestern lost the mail contract to a rival stage company, he was fired. Bill was arrested later that year and charged with stealing horses from the rival stage company. He was lynched in 1874 while awaiting trial.
PONY DIEHL was born Charles Ray at Rock Island, Illinois in 1848. During his lifetime, his name was linked to some of the most famous frontier characters in western history. He first appeared in 1870 New Mexico Territory as a member of the John Kinney gang. Along with Kinney, Jesse Evans, and Jim McDaniels, Diehl entered a Las Cruces saloon and started a fight with some US Cavalry soldiers. One soldier was killed in the fight and Kinney was injured. Pony and his friends carried Kinney outside, turned around, and shot through the saloon door and windows, killing two soldiers and wounding three more. In 1876, Diehl left Kinney and joined the band that Jesse Evans formed. The outlaws were involved in cattle rustling and armed robbery, and when the Lincoln County War started, they fought Billy the Kid and his Regulators. After the War, Diehl joined Curly Bill Brocius and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson on a cattle drive to Arizona Territory and ended up in Tombstone. There, he became friends with Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury, and Johnny Ringo. Diehl’s name was linked to numerous Tombstone crimes including robberies, cattle rustling, horse thieving, the attempted murder of Virgil Earp and events following the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. When gambler Mike O’Rourke killedDiehl’s friend, Johnny Ringo, in 1882, Pony murdered O’Rourke. Diehl spent five years in prison and was killed in a gunfight in 1888.
HASKAY-BAY-NAY-NTAYL (The Apache Kid) was born in 1860. He was captured by the Yuma Indians in 1866, rescued by the Army in 1876, and enlisted as a scout in the US Cavalry in 1881. In 1887, the Kid was in charge of scouts at the San Carlos post when a drinking party fight broke out in which the Kid’s father, Togo-de-Chuz, was killed by a scout named Gon-Zizzie. The Kid’s friends killed Gon-Zizzie, and the Kid killed Gon-Zizzie’s brother. The scouts involved were confronted and ordered to surrender. A crowd gathered, shots rang out, and the Apache Kid and several others lit out.
The Kid was captured, was tried, and sentenced to death by firing squad. Two months later the death sentence was remanded to ten years in Alcatraz. The next year, the Apache Kid was set free. This enraged the public. New warrants were issued, and the Kid was on the lam again. He was caught, tried, and given seven years in Yuma Prison. Shortly afterward, he and four others overpowered three guards, killed two, and escaped. A monster snowstorm prevented pursuit. After that, there were many unconfirmed sightings and reports that linked the Apache Kid to numerous crimes, including murder, rape, and robbery. But for all practical purposes, he had vanished. No one knows what happened to “Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl,” a name that means brave and tall and will come to a mysterious end.
GEORGE “BITTERCREEK” NEWCOMB was born near Ft. Scott, Kansas in 1866 and began working as a cowboy at age twelve. In 1892, he drifted into the Oklahoma Territory and joined the Dalton Gang. After being called “too wild” by Bob Dalton, George and Bill Doolin started the Wild Bunch. Two months later, the Dalton Gang was wiped out in Coffeyville, Kansas.
Bittercreek took a fancy to a fourteen-year old girl named Rose Dunn, who had four outlaw brothers. George and the brothers were buddies and stood shoulder to shoulder in several shootouts with lawmen. Then the Dunn boys became bounty hunters. Newcomb had a $5,000 dead or alive reward on his head, and when Bittercreek rode up to the Dunn ranch to see Rose on May 2, 1895, Bill Dunn and his three brothers were hiding in the house. When Bittercreek got off his horse, the four bounty hunters opened fire and Bittercreek Newcomb fell dead.
DAN BOGAN was born in Alabama in 1860. He moved to Texas with his family when he was ten. In Texas, Bogan became a cowboy and joined a cattle drive to Kansas in 1882. When the drive reached Dodge City, the cowboys got drunk and started a gunfight. Marshal Jack Bridges killed one cowboy and ran the rest out of town.
Dan returned to Texas and fell in with a band of rustlers. Pat Garrett was hired to stop the thievery. In 1884, Pat’s posse trapped the rustlers at their hideout. A firefight flared. One outlaw was killed and three lawmen were wounded. Dan Bogan escaped.
In 1886, Dan was running roughshod in Lusk, Wyoming. By then he had killed at least three men. Constable Charlie Gunn, a former Texas Ranger and noted gunfighter, would not be intimidated. Charlie had rebuked Dan several times and finally threatened to arrest him. Bogan hated Gunn, and when the lawman entered Waters Saloon on January 15, 1887, Brogan was waiting with his gun hidden behind his back. Dan’s pistol flashed and Charlie fell, but drew his own six-gun before he hit the floor. Bogan then ran over and shot the Constable point blank in the head, killing him instantly. Bogan was arrested and charged with murder. In September, he was convicted and sentenced to hang. In October he escaped. Charlie Siringo took up the chase, which led him to Utah, New Mexico, Mexico, and New Orleans. Rumors had the fugitive in Argentina. But, the outlaw had vanished. The last word heard was that Dan Bogan was living under an assumed name and operating a small family ranch somewhere in Texas, in 1931.
WILLIAM “TULSA JACK” BLAKE was an outlaw of the Western Frontier and member of the Wild Bunch. Tulsa Jack was a Kansas cowboy and drifted into Oklahoma Territory in the 1880s. In 1892 he met the outlaw, Bill Doolin, and joined the Wild Bunch, also called the Doolin-Dalton Gang. Blake took part in numerous bank holdups and train robberies, and was a key figure during the gang’s shootout with US Marshals in Ingalls, Oklahoma in September 1893, during which three Deputy Marshals were killed. In 1895, a posse led by Deputy Marshal Will Banks surrounded Tulsa Jack at his hideout in Major County, Oklahoma and a fierce gunfight erupted. During the firefight that lasted over 45 minutes, Blake tied to escape, but was shot and killed by Banks. Tulsa Jack Blake’s death marked the beginning of the end of Doolin’s Wild Bunch.
Alice “Poker Alice” Ivers was born in England in 1851. Her family moved to Virginia when she was ten, and Alice attended boarding school in Virginia. Nine years later she moved to Colorado Territory where she met and married
a gambler named Frank Duffield. Frank taught her how to play poker. When Duffield was killed in Leadville, Alice began playing poker seriously. She earned a living gambling at saloons in some of the wildest towns on the western frontier.
In Deadwood in 1888, Alice was dealing blackjack at Bedrock Tom’s Saloon when she saved Warren Tubbs from a knife wielding drunk miner by threatening the attacker with her Colt .45. Soon afterward, Tubbs and Ivers were married.
They had seven children. The family settled to a quiet life in Sturgis. When Warren died of tuberculosis, Alice went back to the poker tables.
By the time Ivers had earned the name “Poker Alice,” saloon owners liked the idea she was a respectable woman, even though she always carried her pistol and smoked cigars. As her reputation grew, so did her income. She would make as much as $6,000 in one night.
Poker Alice’s third husband was George Huckert, who herded the sheep on her ranch. In 1910, Alice opened “Poker Palace” at Ft. Meade, SD, serving booze downstairs and prostitution upstairs. In 1913, the year Huckert died, Poker Alice shot one unruly soldier customer dead and wounded another. She was acquitted. In her sixties, she was accused of being a madam, a gambler, a bootlegger, and for drunkenness. She retired in 1928 and died in 1930 at the age of 79.
JACK BRIDGES was born in Maine in 1834. He moved to Kansas when he was 20 years old and served as a Cowtown lawman for the next 15 years. In 1869, Bridges became a US Deputy Marshal stationed at hays city, Kansas. Jack and legendary lawman Ben Williams worked to enforce the law and maintain peace between white settlers and hostile Indian tribes.
In 1871, Bridges was instructed to arrest the notorious killer J.E.B. Ledford. With a posse of two dozen armed men, Bridges surrounded the hotel where Ledford lived. The killer came out with both guns blazing. The marshal was wounded, but the outlaw went down dead in a hail of bullets. When Jack healed, he headed for Dodge City, Kansas, where he was appointed city marshal. As peace officer of Dodge City, Bridges was involved in countless gunfights and fist fights with tough cowboys and deadly gunfighters, but refused to take sides in the fight between Wyatt Earp’s Dodge City peace commission and Alonzo Webster’s Dodge City administrators. When Bill Tilghman took over as city marshal in 1884, Bridges left town. He settled down in Barstow, Texas, where he died in 1915.
WILLIAM “BLACK JACK” CHRISTIAN was born in 1860 in Oklahoma. The first reports of Black Jack’s outlaw activity was in the late 1880s when he and his brother Bob organized the “High Fives Gang” operating mostly in New Mexico Territory. William became known as Black Jack because to his tendency to have a short temper. In Guthrie, Oklahoma in 1895, the
Christian brothers shot and killed a lawman and were arrested, but escaped.
The gang fled to Arizona Territory and robbed the “International Bank” in Nogales. During their escape, gang member Jess Williams was shot and wounded, causing him to drop the money taken in the robbery. All the gang members escaped, but without the loot. Sheriff Bob Leatherwood of Tucson, Arizona led a posse in pursuit and surrounded the gang at Skeleton Canyon. A firefight ensued in which Deputy Frank Robson was shot and killed. Black Jack and his gang again escaped and fled south of the border into Mexico. In 1897, the gang was back in Arizona holding up stagecoaches. A posse soon found their canyon hideout. The entire Black Jack Christian gang was killed in the shootout that followed and their bodies were placed on public display. To this day, their canyon hideout is known as Black Jack Canyon.
JOHN “HAPPY JACK” MORCO was a dangerous pistol man and a corrupt lawman. Morco was born in New york and went west in 1866. He traveled first to California and it is said he killed as many as twelve men in gunfights during the next four years. In 1870, he moved on to Ellsworth, Kansas when the frontier cattle town was the West’s wildest. Town Constable Will Semans had been killed the year before, leaving only deputy County Sheriff Chauncey Whitney to keep peace in the entire county. The town was in desperate need for law and order. Morco was hired as town Policeman.
In 1873, gambler Billy Thompson and his famous gunfighter brother, Ben, arrived in Ellsworth. By this time Whitney had taken over as County Sheriff and he and the Thompson brothers became fast friends. One day Ben Thompson tried to collect a debt from John Sterling and John Morco. Knowing Ben was unarmed, Sterling slapped him and Morco pulled a pistol. Thompson got a gun, was joined by Billy, and went to meet Morco and Sterling. Sheriff Whitney interceded, and the three confronted Morco and Sterling. Suddenly Billy’s shotgun discharged, shooting Sheriff Whitney. Before Whitney died the next day he testified that the shooting was an accident. Billy was tried and acquitted. But due to his inappropriate involvement in the whole affair, the Town Council fired Morco and appointed J.C. “Charlie” Brown to take his place. A few months later, Morco started a quarrel with a Texas cowboy in front of lizzie Palmer’s dancehall. When Brown intervened, Morco and Brown both reached for their guns. “Charlie” Brown was faster and shot ‘Happy Jack” twice, in the head and in the heart, killing him instantly.
Archibald “little Archie” Clement was born in Missouri in 1846. he joined Bloody Bill Anderson’s Confederate guerillas in 1861 and quickly took a leading role in the gang’s military operations, becoming a lieutenant at the age of 17. Although he stood just five feet tall, little Archie feared nothing and was an expert pistol shot with either hand. he participated in the Lawrence, Kansas raid where the raiders killed more than 100 men and burned down the town. he was also present at the Centralia, Missouri massacre and helped kill 23 unarmed union soldiers in cold blood. When union forces killed
“Bloody Bill” in October, 1864, little Archie took command. When the War Between the States ended, Clements joined the group of renegades that would later become the James-younger gang.
in February 1866, little Archie led the outlaws in the first u.s. daylight bank robbery at liberty, Missouri, killing an innocent 14-year-old boy. in October of that year, the daring desperadoes robbed another bank at Lexington, Missouri.
Archibald “little Archie” Clements was killed in the firefight that ensured when the Missouri state militia ambushed the bandit band at Lexington in December 1866. He is buried in Wellington, Missouri
The gunfight at Tascosa, Texas is little known today, but at the time it was more famous than the Gunfight at the
OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. In the spring of 1884, pat Garrett was hired by the big ranchers to organize a company of Texas Rangers to put a stop to cattle rustling in the Texas panhandle. Garrett set up headquarters at the LS Ranch. By 1885 pat’s “LS Ranch’s Home Rangers” had cleared the area of the rustlers known as “The System” and the Rangers were disbanded. Some of Garrett’s men continued to work for the LS Ranch and their hard drinking ways aroused local resentment. Ex-LS Ranger Ed King was especially quarrelsome and quick to draw his gun. Tempers flared when Sally Emory dumped her boyfriend Lem Woodruff, ex-System man and Jenkins Saloon bartender, and took up with Ed King. On a mild March day in 1886, Ed King and three ex-LS Rangers, Frank Valley, John Lang and Fred Chilton, rode into the town of Tascosa, Texas to attend a local dance. After the dance they headed for the Equity bar. Someone in the cantina hailed King as they passed Jenkins Saloon.
As King stepped onto the porch, Lem Woodruff rushed out and shot King in the face. King died immediately. The three remaining LS ranch hands rushed around back of the Jenkins Saloon just as Woodruff, Louis Bosman, Charley & Tom Emory, Jesse Sheets and the Catfish Kid were exiting from the back door. Six-guns flashed. Woodruff and Charley Emory went down first. Frank Valley was shot in the head. Chilton shot Jesse Sheets and he fell dead. Chilton was shot in the chest. Dying, he handed his gun to Lang. Lang ran from the fight and met Sheriff Jim East and his deputy. The men went back to the Jenkins Saloon. The Catfish Kid ran from the scene unhurt. The fight left John Lang without a scratch. His three friends and Jesse Sheets lay dead or dying. Lem Woodruff, Charley Emory and the Catfish Kid survived to fight another day.
ARKANSAS TOM JONES was born Roy Daugherty in Missouri on January 1, 1870. The Daugherty family was a staunchly religious family. His two brothers became preachers, but Roy rebelled. He left Missouri for Oklahoma Territory when he was 14 years old and changed his name to “Arkansas Tom Jones.” Roy worked as a cowboy until 1892, when he joined Bill Doolin’s Wild Bunch Gang and was involved in several robberies. He killed Marshal Thomas Hueston at the 1893 Battle of Ingalls in Ingalls, Oklahoma. Roy was captured later by Marshal Jim Masterson and sentenced to 50 years but was paroled in 1910. Dougherty tried to go straight but was sent back to prison in 1917 after robbing a bank at Neosho, Missouri. Released in 1921, Roy robbed another bank in Asbury, Missouri and remained on the run until he was killed in a gunfight with lawmen on August 16, 1924 in Joplin, Missouri.
BILL PICKETT was born near Taylor, Texas in 1870. He was the second child of five boys and eight girls born to a former slave father and a Cherokee mother. Bill left school in the fifth grade to become a ranch hand, and at age 20 he married Maggie Turner. Maggie was a former slave and daughter of a white southern plantation owner. The couple had nine children. Pickett invented Bulldogging, the technique of grab bing a steer by the horns and wrestling it to the ground.
His method for bulldogging was biting a steer on the lip and then falling backwards. Bill soon became known for his cowboy stunts at local county carnivals. With his four brothers, he established The Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and Rough Riders Association.
The name Bill Pickett soon became synonymous with successful rodeos traveling throughout Texas, Arizona, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. In 1905, Pickett joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show and toured around the world with Buffalo Bill, Tom Mix, Will Rogers, Bee Ho Gray and other famous personalities. Pickett also appeared in early motion pictures, such as The Bulldogger and The Crimson Skull. Bill Pickett was killed when he was kicked in the head by a wild bronco in 1932.
He was inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1971.
John Harrison Younger was born in Missouri in 1851, the youngest brother of Cole, Jim and Bob Younger. In 1862, his father was shot and killed by a detachment of Union militiamen. As a result of this killing, Cole and Jim joined Quantrill’s Raiders, but John and Bob were too young to join. In 1866, Bob and John took their mother to Independence to buy supplies, where an ex-soldier named Gillcreas made some deprecatory comments about Cole riding with Quantrill. John shot him right between the eyes. The Youngers left for Texas. When their mother became very ill, John, Jim and Bob took her back to Missouri, where they were repeatedly hassled by Yankee sympathizers. Bob was beaten and John was hanged by a mob but survived.
After the mother died, the boys moved often between Missouri and Texas. In 1871 John shot and killed two Texas Deputy Sheriffs. In 1873 John, Jim and Bob joined the James-Younger Gang. In 1874 John and Jim were riding to see friends. Deputy Sheriff Edward Daniels and two Pinkerton Detectives approached them. The Youngers pulled their pistols and fired. One Pinkerton was hit but shot John before he died. Jim killed Deputy Daniels. The other Pinkerton fled and John chased him and shot him dead. As John rode back, he swayed in the saddle and fell off his horse, dead before he hit the ground. Jim buried John by the roadside. Jim later removed John’s body and re-buried him at Yeater-Cleveland
Cemetery in St. Clair County, Missouri.
Henry Ossian Flipper was born to slaves Isabella and Festus Flipper at Thomasville, Georgia in 1856. In 1873, Henry was the fifth African-American to receive an appointment to West Point and the first black to graduate in 1877. Upon graduation, he earned a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army and was the first non-white officer to lead the famed Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment. Lt. Flipper was posted at Forts Elliott, Sill, Davis and Concho during the Apache Wars and served with bravery and distinction throughout the Western United States. He led his troopers against hostile tribes in the Indian Territory and fought Apaches in Texas at Eagle Springs during the Victorio Campaign. In 1881, Flipper was falsely accused of embezzling federal funds. He was charged, court-martialed and discharged, thus ending his military career. As a civilian, Flipper was first employed by the U.S. Government as a special agent surveying western land claims. From 1901 to 1912 he worked as a mining engineer throughout Mexico and Latin America. He returned to Texas during the Mexican Revolution, and supplied the U.S. Senate with information on internal Mexican affairs.
In 1923, after serving as assistant secretary of the interior under President Harding, he took a position as an engineer with a Venezuelan petroleum company. He retired and returned to Atlanta in 1931. Henry Flipper died in 1940. In 1994 his descendants applied to the U.S. military for a review of Flipper’s court martial and found that the conviction and punishment were “unduly harsh and unjust.” It was recommended that Flipper’s dismissal be changed to a good conduct discharge. Application for pardon was filed with the Secretary of the Army and President Clinton pardoned Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper on February 19, 1999
Dangerous Dan Tucker was a lawman and gunfighter. Born in Canada in 1849, Dan drifted into Colorado Territory in 1872, where he killed a man in a knife fight. When he rode with the outlaw gang of John Kinney, he killed three men in El Paso, Texas and two men in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dan then showed up in Silver City, New Mexico in 1875. Famed New Mexico sheriff Harvey Whitehall took a liking to him and hired him as a deputy. In 1876, Tucker shot and killed a Mexican in a fight at Johnny Ward’s Dance Hall. When a drunken man was reported throwing rocks at passing citizens, deputy Dan merely located the intoxicated man and shot him dead without muttering one word to the victim. In 1878, Dan was wounded in a shootout with a cowpuncher, but killed the cowboy in the firefight. In another gunfight, he killed two horse thieves and wounded one. In 1880, Dan tracked two robbers for two days. When he returned, he had no prisoners. But he did have all the stolen goods and the horses, saddles and weapons of the two outlaws. One day Dan responded to a domestic dispute and settled it by killing the husband. In 1881, deputy Dan shot and killed rustler Jake Bond. Later, he was summoned to Deming, New Mexico. Outlaws had taken over the town. Within three days, Dangerous Dan shot and killed three men and wounded two more. In 1882, Tucker was ambushed as he entered a brothel in Deming to investigate a complaint. He was wounded but he shot and killed the assassin and a prostitute accomplice. In 1883, Tucker was part of a posse in pursuit of a gang of train robbers. The posse engaged the bandits in a shootout near Silver City. Two gang members and a posse member, Joe Le Fur, were killed. The other desperadoes were hanged on the spot. Tucker resigned his position in 1888 and moved on to California. Where or when he died remains unknown. Little known now, Dangerous Dan Tucker is considered by some historians to have been one of the most famous gunmen in the Old West.
Mart Duggan was born in Ireland in 1848. He immigrated to New York City with his parents in 1855 and headed west in 1865. Duggan drifted through Colorado mining camps for the next ten years and in 1876 took a job as a bouncer in a Georgetown saloon. In no time, a town bully challenged the bouncer to a standup gunfight. Mart met the man in the street and shot him dead. When Duggan arrived at Leadville in 1878, the first town marshal had been beaten and run out of town and his replacement had been shot and killed. Mart Duggan was picked to fill the vacant position. He immediately began firing disloyal deputies and hiring help he could trust. He killed three men in saloon gunfights during this period. Duggan was dismissed as marshal after a drinking binge in 1879, but was quickly reinstated when the mayor realized no one else could keep the rowdy town under control. In March, Bill and Jim Bush became involved in a dispute with Mortimer Arbuckle. Jim Bush shot Arbuckle, killing him. Arbuckle was unarmed. A mob formed, intent on hanging Bill Bush.
Duggan backed down the mob and arrested Jim Bush. Duggan quit the marshal’s position in Leadville in April and moved to Flint, Michigan. Pat Kelly replaced him, but Kelly lacked Duggan’s courage and Leadville reverted to its former rowdy ways. The council fired Kelly and sent for Duggan who arrested all those causing problems, including gunman Billy Thompson, brother of pistolman Ben Thompson. In 1880, Duggan refused reappointment and opened a livery stable. After he shot and killed Louis Lamb, Mart moved to Douglass City. In 1887, he returned to Leadville as a patrolman. He began to drink heavily and was involved in several disputes. In 1888, in a dispute with Bailey Youngston and Bill Gordon, he invited the two men to step out of the Texas House for a shootout. They refused. When Duggan left the saloon around 4:00 a.m., someone slipped up behind him and shot him in the back of the head. When asked who shot him, he replied, “I’ll die before I tell you.” Duggan died at 11:00 a.m., the murderer never known.
Milton J. Yarberry was born John Armstrong in 1849 in Arkansas. After killing a man in 1869, he left his original family and changed his name to Yarberry. In 1873, he killed another man and beat a hasty retreat to Missouri, where he rode with outlaw gunmen Dave Rudabaugh and “Mysterious” Dave Mather. In 1875 Yarberry settled in Texarkana,
Arkansas but soon killed a bounty hunter and turned tail for Texas to join the Texas Rangers. In 1876 Milton quit the Rangers and opened a saloon in Decatur, Texas. When another busybody bounty hunter showed up, Yarberry shot him dead and left Texas. He headed for Canon City, Colorado, opening a saloon there with partner Tony Preston. In 1879 he sold out to Preston and started a brothel in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Again, Yarberry was forced to sell out after killing a man over a prostitute. He moved to San Marciel, New Mexico, the town in which Tony Preston had recently settled. He promptly started an affair with Preston’s wife Sadie. When Yarberry left for Albuquerque to become the town’s first town marshal in 1880, Sadie and her fouryear-old daughter went with him. Within days, the new marshal had killed two more men to establish himself as one of the most dangerous gunmen in the West.
Gunman Harry Brown drifted into town in 1881. Soon he and Sadie became romantically involved. The couple was having dinner at Gerard’s Cafe when Yarberry appeared. Brown met him outside and the two began arguing. Brown hit Yarberry and pulled his pistol. He fired once and missed. The marshal fired and didn’t miss. He shot Brown twice in the chest, killing him instantly. Yarberry was acquitted on grounds of self-defense. Three weeks later, Yarberry killed again. While responding to a shooting incident at the Greenleaf Cafe, Yarberry shot and killed Charlie Campbell, the man he thought was responsible.
Yarberry was arrested and tried for murder. At a time when New Mexico news stories of Billy the Kid’s outrageous exploits were rampant, the jury found Yarberry guilty and, to set an example, sentenced him to hang. On February 9, 1883, Yarberry was marched to the Gallows. More than 1,500 people watched the hanging. As Sheriff Perfecto Armijo
pulled the lever, Yarberry proclaimed, “Gentlemen, you are hanging an innocent man.”
Captain George Washington Arrington was a Confederate Guerrilla, Texas Ranger, sheriff and rancher. He was born John C. Orrick, Jr., in Alabama, in 1844 to John and Mariah (Arrington) Orrick. John’s father died when he was four. At the age of sixteen, John enlisted in the Confederate Army and rode with Mosby’s guerrillas. After murdering a black businessman in 1867, he spent three years in Central America before moving to Texas. It was then that he adopted the name George Washington Arrington to break with his troubled past. Arrington worked for the railroad in Houston and later at a commission house in Galveston.
In 1875, George enlisted in Company E of the Frontier Battalion of Texas Rangers. He was promoted from sergeant to first lieutenant in 1877 because of his success in tracking down fugitives and outlaws in the Rio Grande Valley. The following year he was made captain and ordered to Fort Griffin to restore peace in the wake of uncontrolled vigilante action. In 1879 Arrington’s company was moved to the Panhandle to investigate widespread depredations at area ranches. To stop the plundering and robbery he established Camp Roberts, the first Ranger Camp in the Panhandle. From there he led his men to chart the area from Yellow House Canyon to Ranger Lake in eastern New Mexico.
His troop also located uncharted watering places and secret Apache hideouts. It was at this time he received the nickname Cap. Cap resigned from the Rangers in 1882 to take advantage of local ranching opportunities.
After helping area ranchers break up a ruthless rustling ring, he was elected Sheriff of Wheeler County. In 1883 he met Sarah Burnette. They were married that same year and raised a family of two sons and six daughters. During Arrington’s years as sheriff, his reputation as the “iron-handed man of the Panhandle” increased with his fatal shooting in 1886 of John Leverton, a suspected cattle rustler. Murder charges were filed against the sheriff but he was acquitted. Cap served as County Sheriff until 1890. During his service he filed on Washita River ranch land in Hemphill County and registered his CAP brand. In 1893 he was appointed manager of the Rocking Chair Ranch by its British owners. He remained manager until 1896, when the Rocking Chair was sold to the Continental Land and Cattle Company. George Washington Cap Arrington died of a heart attack in 1923 and is buried at Mobeetie.
BOONE HELM was known as the Kentucky Cannibal. Born in 1828, Boone was a gunfighter, a mountain man and a serial killer who earned his nickname for his unrepentant proclivity for the consumption of human flesh. He was born in Kentucky into an honest, hard-working family who moved to Missouri when Boone was still a boy. Helm married 17-year-old Lucinda Browning in 1848 and soon gained a reputation for heavy drinking, riding his horse into the house, and beating his wife. Lucinda petitioned for divorce.
Helm decided to head for the California Gold Fields and his cousin Littlebury Shoot agreed to accompany him. But when his cousin decided to not go West, Helm stabbed him in the chest, killing him instantly. Boone then headed for California alone. On the way, he murdered several men in various altercations. When he reached Montana he teamed up with half a dozen men with whom he confided that he had eaten a few of his murder victims. “Many’s the poor devil I’ve killed, at one time or another, and the time has been that I’ve been obliged to feed on some of ‘em.” Helm and his party was attacked by Indians in Idaho and forced to flee into the wilderness. Their journey was arduous, winnowing the party down to two… Helm and a man named Burton. When Burton could go no further he took his own life. Helm ate one of Burton’s legs and wrapped the other to take with him to Salt Lake City, Utah. When Boone became wanted by the law in Utah, he fled to San Francisco, California where he killed a rancher before heading for Oregon. In Oregon, he resumed robbing people for a living, frequently murdering them. In 1862 Helm gunned down unarmed Dutch Fred and fled. While on the run, Helm ate another fugitive who had been accompanying him to Texas. Helm soon reappeared at many settlements throughout the West, killing more men as he went. After teaming up with the notorious Henry Plummer and his gang, the killer was finally captured in Montana. The Montana Vigilantes hanged Helm and gang-member Three fingered Jack Gallager in Virginia City in 1864. On seeing his friend Gallager hanged, Boone said, “Kick away old fellow. My turn next. I’ll see you in Hell in a minute.”
Indian trader William Becknell is the Father of the Santa Fe Trail. He was the first trader to arrive in Santa Fe, New Mexico, ten years after the Spanish had closed their Southwest holdings to foreigners for fear of American domination of the region. During this decade, the Spanish confiscated the goods of any trader who violated their directive and put the trespasser in prison. However, many purveyors continued to trade with the Indian Tribes on the American-controlled eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. Becknell was one of those traders. While on such a trading mission in 1821, he met a Mexican soldier who informed him that Mexico had recently won its independence from Spain, and the region was no longer out of bounds to American traders.
The American Trader immediately set out for Santa Fe, where he quickly sold all his goods at an enormous profit. When he returned to his base in Franklin, Missouri, his saddlebags were heavy with Mexican silver. The next summer, Becknell traveled to Santa Fe again, this time with three wagonloads of goods. But instead of following the old risky route over
a high pass, he blazed a shorter cutoff trail across the Cimarron Desert. Becknell’s role in reopening the Santa Fe Trail and laying out the shortcut earned him the title, “Father of the Santa Fe Trail.” Becknell’s trail was destined to become one of the most important of Old West trading routes. Travelers continued to follow the Santa Fe Trail until trains took over in 1872.
California Joe was born Moses Embree Milner in 1829 at Stanford, Kentucky. Joe served as a teamster with General Kearney during the Mexican War then headed west with a team of trappers and was captured by Ute Indians. He was soon rescued and headed for the gold fields of California to try his luck in striking it rich. No such luck. So he next established a trade route and ran mule trains from Oregon to mining camps at Walla Walla, Washington. When gold was discovered in Montana, Joe lit out for Bannack to try his luck again. Three swindlers tried to steal his claim. He killed one and wounded another. The third one was lucky. He got away. Joe earned his nickname in Virginia City, Montana when he killed two men in a saloon fight. He left town in a hurry when vigilantes threatened to hang him. Joe spent the next two years in New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. In 1864, he fought shoulder to shoulder with Kit Carson at the Battle of Adobe Walls. Two years later, he was named Chief Scout for General George Custer and in 1874 served under him in the Black Hills expedition. Later, Milner was with General George Crook when his army chased Sitting Bull after his Sioux defeated Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. In 1876, Joe was in a Nebraska saloon. A disagreement with a pistolman named Newcomb led to high tempers. Guns flashed and Joe was shot and killed. Two years later, Wild West justice triumphed. Newcomb was shot in the back by a friend of California Joe.
Little Bill” Standifer was born in Burnet County and raised in Lampasas County, Texas. At the age of 14, while working as a cowboy, he came across four men rustling cattle and was pistol whipped by the men and badly hurt. He tracked down all four men and killed them one by one. He was tried and acquitted. In 1879, Little Bill was working as a cowboy on the Mullins Ranch when John McMahon, from another ranch, tried to drive his cattle across a pasture where Standifer was holding Mullins’ cattle. Standifer stopped him. McMahon produced a bullwhip and began whipping Standifer. Both were mounted and Little Bill rode away. Days later, Standifer tracked McMahon to a cattle camp and killed him.
Little Bill fled to Marfa, Texas where he shot three soldiers before fleeing. In early 1880, Standifer was working as a Range Detective and is known to have shot and killed several cattle rustlers. He was elected Sheriff for Crosby County in 1888. In 1891, he and Deputy Charlie Quillen pursued three thieves and captured them in New Mexico. On their return to Texas the outlaws attempted to escape. Quillen was shot but was able to overpower the prisoner. Another outlaw seized a shotgun but when it misfired, Standifer beat the desperado into submission. Quillen survived and the two were able to take their prisoners back to Texas.
In 1893 Little Bill began working again as a Range Detective and quickly gained a reputation for being an excellent tracker. While tracking rustlers in Clairemont, a rough town in which the brother to Wes Hardin had been killed, Standifer located a rustler named Bob Kiggins. In the gunfight that followed Standifer killed Kiggins.
Standifer first met the pistolman John “Pink” Higgins (The Cowboy Chronicle, February 2015) when they both worked as Range Detectives for the Spur Ranch. An animosity between Little Bill and Pink developed and both men were fired. However, the animosity continued. In 1900, Standifer was elected Sheriff of Hartley County. On a morning in 1903, Standifer rode out to the Higgins ranch. Higgins rode out to meet him. Little Bill fired first, hitting Pink’s horse. Higgins’ initial shot was wide, but in the shooting exchange that followed, he shot and killed Standifer. Higgins’ horse also died.
When Higgins told the Sheriff he believed he had killed Standifer, the Sheriff stated, “Well if you’re not sure, you’d better go and finish the job.” Higgins was never arrested or tried. He buried Standifer on the Higgins property and named the site “Standifer’s Thicket.”
Bigfoot Wallace was a six-foot-two-inch, 250-pound, fearless Texas Ranger. He was born William A.A. Wallace at Lexington, Kentucky in 1817. When he was 19 years old, he set out for Texas to “take pay out of the Mexicans” for shooting down his brother and first cousin at the Goliad massacre. He joined the newly formed Texas Rangers and fought shoulder-to-shoulder with Captain Jack Hays and Rangers Ben McCulloch and Sam Walker to free Texas from the Mexicans and Comanche Indians.
It took Bigfoot more than forty years of fighting in campaigns such as the Battle of Salado Creek, the Battle of Hondo River, the Battle of Mier, the Black Bean Incident and the Battle of Monterrey to finally square the account. In the early 1850s, Wallace commanded his own Ranger Company, fighting Mexican border bandits and Comanche Indians who were raiding ranches and killing men, women and children on the Texas frontier. Bigfoot drove a mail wagon from San Antonio to El Paso in the late 1850s. His mules were stolen by Comanches.
On one trip. Wallace walked back to El Paso. On the way, he stopped at the first Mexican ranch he passed and ate 27 eggs before arriving in town for a full meal. During the War Between the States he and his Rangers guarded the Texas frontier against the still hostile Comanche tribes. Wallace never married and spent his later years in South Texas near the village of Bigfoot. He died on January 7, 1899. He is buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
In all the criminal lore of the country there is no record equal to that of Harry Tracy for cold-blooded nerve, desperation and thirst for crime. Jesse James, compared with Tracy, is a Sunday school teacher. —Seattle Daily Times, 1902
Harry Tracy’s real name was Harry Severns. He was born in 1875. By the time he reached the age of 21 he was running with Butch Cassidy’s Hole In The Wall Gang, actively participating in acts of robbery and murder. In 1898, Tracy and three gang members got into a gunfight with the law at Brown’s Park, Colorado. The three outlaws and posse man
Valentine Hoy were killed. Tracy was captured but escaped from the Aspen Colorado Jail three months later. He was captured again in 1901 and sentenced to a term in the Oregon State Penitentiary. Tracy and fellow convict Dave Merrill broke out in June of 1902. In the shootout, they shot and killed officers Thurston Jones, Bailey Tiffany, Frank Ferrell and three civilians.
On June 28 Harry killed Dave Merrill. A week later he killed detective Charlie Raymond and deputy John Williams in a shootout near Bothell, Washington. The killer fled and later holed up in a house with several hostages. When law enforcement officers responded, he killed posse members Cornelious Rowley and Enoch Breece in the shootout that preceded his escape. The law cornered Harry in Creston, Washington on August 6, 1902. Tracy was surrounded and seriously wounded in the gunfight that followed. Harry Tracy committed suicide to avoid capture.
GEORGE SCARBOROUGH was a cowboy, gunfighter and lawman. He was born in Louisiana on October 2, 1859. The Scarborough family moved to Texas when George was a teenager and he worked as a cowboy until appointed sheriff of Jones County in 1885. Scarborough earned a reputation as a gunfighter when he became a Deputy U.S. Marshal at El Paso, Texas in the 1890s. He shot and killed a tough Texan named Martin McRose and two years later he gunned down Constable John Selman. Scarborough claimed both men drew their guns first, but no gun was found on Selman’s body. Because a local thief claimed to have stolen Selman’s gun after the gunfight, the Scarborough was acquitted.
Scarborough had been feuding with Selman ever since the constable shot and killed Bass Outlaw. Bass Outlaw was a good friend to George Scarborough. Prior to being shot by Constable Selman, Outlaw had killed a Texas Ranger named McKirdict, so the Constable was acquitted. Scarborough was also well known as an expert tracker when chasing outlaws.
He and El Paso Police Chief Jeff Milton tracked Bronco Bill Walter and his gang of cutthroats to their hideout in Solomonville, Arizona.
Bronco Bill was captured, one gang member was killed and the rest of the renegades scattered. Later that year, the two lawmen caught up to Burt Alvord and his band of desperados in Fairbank, Arizona. In the gunfight that followed, Jeff Milton was wounded and gang members Three Fingers Jack Dunlop and Bravo Juan Yaos were killed. Burt Alvord was captured. Scarborough then moved on to New Mexico, where he was employed as a hired gunman for the Grant County Cattlemen’s Association. While there, he participated in the capture of stagecoach bandits Pearl Hart and Joe Boot.
In 1900, Scarborough was in a shootout with George Stevenson and Jim Brooks. He killed Brooks and wounded Stevenson but was shot in the leg in the fight. His leg was amputated and George Scarborough died four days later.
JOHN JOSHUA WEBB was a noted Lawman, gunfighter and outlaw. Webb was born in 1847 in Keokuk County, Iowa. He was the seventh of twelve children born to Bill Webb and Innocent Blue Brown. The Webb family moved to Nebraska in 1862. In 1871, John drifted to Dodge City, Kansas where he met Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. When Bat Masterson was appointed sheriff of Ford County, he deputized Webb, along with Kinch Riley and “Prairie Dog” Morrow, to track down “Dirty Dave” Rudabaugh and his band of train robbers. The deputies soon captured the outlaws and Rudabaugh squealed on his compadres. His sidekicks ent to prison and Dirty Dave went free. In 1878, Webb was picked to serve as an Army scout to help Bill Tilghman fight hostile Cheyenne Indians in Kansas.
After they settled the local Indian uprising, Webb was hired by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway to fight in the Royal Gorge, Colorado Railroad War. He moved on from there to Las Vegas, New Mexico to partner in a saloon with Doc Holliday. One day a gambler named Mike Gordon assaulted one of Doc’s dance hall girls. Doc intervened and Mike stormed out of the saloon. Doc followed him out. Gordon shot at Doc and missed. Before Mike could fire again, Doc shot him dead. In 1880, Webb was appointed town marshal of Las Vegas and became a member of the Dodge City Gang. Justice of the Peace Hoodoo Brown led the Gang, whose members included gunfighter Dave Mather, “Slap Jack Bill” Nicholson, “Bull Shit Jack” Pierce, “Frank” Cady and Dirty Dave Rudabaugh.
The gang committed acts of thievery and Webb covered the outlaws’ tracks. When Webb entered the Goolet & Roberts Saloon and ordered freighter Michael Killiher, who was allegedly carrying a large amount of cash, to hand over his pistols, Killiher refused. Webb drew his own pistol, shot Killiher twice in the head, killing him instantly, and retrieved the cash. Webb was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. The next week Dirty Dave Rudabaugh burst into the jail in an attempt to free Webb, but the jailbreak was not successful.
Rudabaugh was later arrested while riding with Billy the Kid. When Webb’s sentence was appealed and commuted to life in prison, he and Rudabaugh found themselves serving time in the same jail. In 1881, they escaped and fled to Mexico. Rudabaugh was soon killed in Mexico and Webb drifted back to Texas. John Joshua Webb ended up in Arkansas where he died of smallpox in 1882.
John Coffee “Jack” Hays was born at Little Cedar Lick in Tennessee on January 28, 1817. His uncle was Andrew Jackson. His grandfather fought in the revolutionary war. His father fought in the war of 1812. Jack moved to the Republic of Texas at the age of 19 and was appointed a member of the Texas Rangers by Sam Houston. From 1836 until 1849, Hays led the Rangers on many hard-fought campaigns against the Comanche Indians. In 1840, Tonkawa Indian Chief Placido joined Hays and the Rangers in an endeavor to track down a massive Comanche War Party under the leadership of Chief Buffalo Hump. The war party had been on an extended killing raid that reached all the way from the ranches in West Texas to the cities on the Texas Coast. Hays’ posse caught up with the Comanches at Plum Creek, which resulted in the “Battle of Plum Creek.”
The Indian warriors had a huge herd of horses and an enormous amount of captured plunder. Hays mustered his troops. “Yonder are the Indians, boys. And yonder are our horses. The Indians are strong, but we can lick ‘em. What do you say?” The Battle of Plum Creek was more of a running gunfight as the Comanches tried to hold on to their booty and get back to the safety of their camps on the Llano Estacado. In the end, the Indians did get away with their spoils and many of the stolen horses. In 1842, Hays commanded the force against the invasion from Mexico. He also fought in the Mexican-American War and commanded a regiment of Texas Rangers at the Battle of Monterrey. Jack married Susan Calvert at Sequin, Texas in 1847. Two years later he was appointed the US Indian Agent for the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona. The following year, the married couple migrated to San Francisco County in California, where Jack was elected sheriff. Hays commanded a force of volunteer soldiers at the Second Battle of Pyramid Lake in 1860. John Coffee “Jack” Hays died in California on April 21, 1883. He is buried in Oakland, a city for which he was one of the founders.
William “Billy” Dixon was born in West Virginia on September 25, 1850, of European and American Indian ancestry. By age 12, Billy was orphaned and went to live with an uncle in Missouri. Two years later, he was an ox driver and a muleskinner at Leavenworth, Kansas. At age 19, he joined a hunting and trapping venture at Fort Hays, Kansas. When the hunting group moved to the Texas Panhandle in 1874, Billy scouted as far south as the Salt Fork and the Red River.
The hunters explored the Texas Plains, where immense herds of buffalo roamed, and established Adobe Walls. The outpost was attacked in June by a band of about 1,000 Comanches.
On the third day, Dixon took aim with his Sharps rifle and killed an Indian warrior almost a mile away. It would go down in history as “The Shot of the Century” and effectively end the siege. In August 1874 Billy quit buffalo hunting to become an army scout. In September Dixon, another scout, and four troopers were surrounded by a large band of Kiowas and Comanches in Hemphill County. The detail took cover in a buffalo wallow and held the Indians off. After three days, the warriors broke off the fight. Every man in the detail was wounded and one trooper was killed. For this action, known as
The Battle of Buffalo Wallow, all the survivors were awarded the Medal of Honor. In 1883, Dixon moved to Adobe Walls and was postmaster for 20 years. He was state land commissioner, justice of the peace, and the first sheriff of Hutchinson County, Texas. Billy married Olive King in 1894 and they had seven children. The family moved to Oklahoma in 1906 and Billy died there in 1913. Billy Dixon is buried where he first became famous, at Adobe Walls.
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William Sidney “Cap” Light was a Texas lawman. He was born in 1863 at Belton, Texas and at age 20 accepted a position as a deputy marshal in Belton. Cap was a member of the posse that tracked down and killed desperado Wild Bill Northcott in 1884. One day in 1889, a troublemaker named Sam Hasley was drunk and causing problems in town. Cap ordered Sam to go home, so Sam rode his horse up on the sidewalk, daring the young lawman to do something about it. Light attempted to arrest Hasley, but Hasley drew his six-shooter.
Sheriff Light pulled his own pistol and fired, killing Hasley instantly. A few weeks later, when deputy Light was escorting gunman Ed Cooley to prison, the prisoner tried to escape. Light shot Cooley dead. The next year, a gambler named Felix Moralas was drunk and causing trouble in the Cotton Exchange Saloon. Moralas was confronted by Light. Moralas reached for his gun. Light was faster. The gambler fell dead on the floor with his pistol in one hand and a beer in the other. Cap Light married Soapy Smith’s sister, Katherine, in 1887. Soapy Smith was the boss of a criminal empire in Denver and Creede, Colorado. In 1891, Cap joined up with Soapy’s gang and in 1892 he accepted the position of camp deputy marshal at the Creede camp. A Creede faro dealer named Reddy McCann had a killing history of his own.
McMann was drinking heavily one night and around 4:00 a.m. he was shooting out the streetlights on Main Street.
Marshal Light attempted to arrest McCann. Reddy resisted. The marshal slapped the faro dealer in the face. Both men drew their weapons and fired. McCann fell to the floor and his last words were “I’m killed.” A jury found Light innocent, but Cap was so upset over the incident that he quit the Soapy Smith gang. Light then went to Temple, Texas. He applied for a position as a detective for the Santa Fe Railroad but was turned down. Cap blamed the railroad’s chief detective, T. J. Coggins, for his job denial. One day he approached Coggins and struck him with his pistol barrel. Light was arrested and charged with assault. At the trial, Coggins pulled his pistol and fired several shots at Light’s head. One bullet entered near Cap’s right ear, and another just below the jaw. Light eventually recovered. Coggins was arrested for attempted murder but never brought to trial. While riding in a Kansas & Texas train car in 1893, Cap Light shot himself when he accidentally pulled the trigger of the revolver in his pocket. The bullet severed his femoral artery and he hemorrhaged to death within minutes. Cap Light was 30 years old.
HENRY NEWTON BROWN was a gunman, a lawman, a cowboy and an outlaw during his short life. Born in 1857, he was orphaned as a boy and raised by his aunt and uncle in Rolla, Missouri. When he was 17 he left home and headed for Colorado, then migrated to Texas where he killed his first man in a stand-up gunfight.
Brown moved on to the New Mexico Territory in 1877 and joined John Tunstall’s Regulators during the height of the
Lincoln County War. On April 1, 1878 Brown, with Regulators Billy the Kid, Jim French, Frank McNab, John Middleton, and Fred Waite ambushed and murdered Sheriff Bill Brady, the man responsible for Tunstall’s death. Three days later, Brown and the Regulators shot and killed Grady’s friend, Buckshot Roberts. In July of 1878, a sheriff’s posse trapped the Regulators at Alexander McSween’s home in the town of Lincoln, New Mexico. McSween was killed in the gunfight but
Henry, Billy the Kid and several other gang members escaped. A few months later, the same group trailed a herd of stolen horses to the Texas Panhandle. The boys sold the horses and returned to New Mexico. All except Brown, who stayed in Texas and became a lawman. But his quick temper soon got him fired. For the next several years Henry worked as a cowboy on ranches throughout the Oklahoma Territory. In 1882, he went to the wild cowtown of Caldwell,
Kansas where he was appointed city marshal. He hired Ben Wheeler, a former Texas outlaw, as his deputy and together they cleaned up the town. In appreciation for Henry’s service, the city council gave him an engraved Winchester rifle.
Brown killed a gambler named Newt Boyce and a renegade Indian called Spotted Horse with the trophy rifle. By the time the marshal and his assistant were appointed to their third term, they were praised by the Caldwell citizens as the best lawmen the town ever had. In 1884, Brown, Wheeler and two Cherokee cowboys, Billy Smith and Jack Wesley, rode to Medicine Lodge, Kansas to rob the Medicine Valley Bank. Gunfire erupted and Brown shot the bank president, Wylie Payne.
Brown and the outlaws fled, were pursued by a posse, and forced to surrender. Incarcerated in the town’s jail, the bank robbers anticipated a lynch mob. When the mob arrived and opened the cell door, Brown burst through the angry men. As he ran past, he was nearly torn in half by the double-barrel blast of a 12-gauge shotgun. He died immediately. Henry Brown was only 27 years old. Wheeler was brought down by a barrage of gunfire, but lived long enough to be hanged with Smith and Wesley
Evett Dumas Nix was born in Kentucky on September 19, 1861. His uncle was a county sheriff and his father a deputy sheriff. In 1885 he married his childhood sweetheart, Ellen Felts. Nix went to Guthrie, Oklahoma as a businessman, during the Land Rush of 1891.
He had many influential friends, including rancher Oscar Halsell, who at that time employed Bill Doolin and members of the D o o l i n / D a l t o n Gang. Evett was appointed to the position of US Marshal in 1893 at age 32, the youngest to hold that position at the time. He took over during “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker’s tenure, when the Doolin/Dalton Gang was robbing banks and trains in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. The renegades had a safe haven in Ingalls, Oklahoma and Marshal Nix’s first priority was to organize a contingent to take out the outlaws in. Nix and Deputy Marshal John Hixon led a posse of fourteen Marshals to attack the gang. In the Battle of Ingalls, Deputy Marshals Hueston, Speed, and Shadley were killed. Outlaws Bittercreek Newcomb, Charley Pierce, and Dynamite Dan Clifton were wounded but escaped.
Arkansas Tom Jones was captured. Nix next organized an elite group of lawmen, which included Heck Thomas, Bill Tilghman and Chris Madsen, to bring down the Doolin/Dalton Gang. By 1898 the entire band of bandits, except Arkansas Tom Jones who was still in jail, had been killed or brought to justice. After Arkansas Tom was released from prison, he returned to his outlaw ways and was killed by lawmen in 1924. Critics falsely accused Nix of misusing funds and he was dismissed from his position in 1896.
It is believed he merely used the fee system for payment of Deputy Marshals and was not guilty of the mismanagement charge. Following his dismissal he returned to Guthrie and resumed his life as a businessman. In 1929 he co-authored a book titled Oklahombres, detailing the work that wiped out the Doolin/Dalton and the Jennings Gangs. Evett Dumas Nix died on February 6, 1946.
Laura Bullion was a female outlaw. She was born in 1873 or 1876 in either Texas or Arkansas or Kentucky, of a German mother and an outlaw Indian father. By the 1890s Laura Bullion was a member of the Butch Cassidy Wild Bunch gang and her compadres included the likes of Ben Kilpatrick, the Sundance Kid, Black Jack Ketchum, Wild Bill Carver, and Kid Curry.
Bullion’s father had been a friend with outlaws Wild Bill Carver and Ben Kilpatrick, both of whom Laura met when she was 13 years old. At age 15 she became romantically involved with Carver and two years later with Kilpatrick. Members of the Wild Bunch nicknamed Laura “Della Rose.” She was also referred to as the “Rose of the Wild Bunch.” As the gang robbed trains, Laura supported them by selling stolen goods and making connections that could give the gang steady supplies and horses. Bullion also worked as a prostitute until reaching the age of 16 or 17. She returned to prostitution from time to time, working mostly in Madame Fannie Porter’s brothel in San Antonio, Texas, a frequent hideaway for the Wild Bunch. Both Bullion and Kilpatrick were arrested in 1901 after they fled east to avoid the law following the Great Northern train robbery. An eastern newspaper article mentions the suspicion that, disguised as a boy, Laura might also have taken part in a Montana train robbery. The paper cites a city detective: “I would not think helping to hold up a train was too much for her. She is cool, shows absolutely no fear, and in male attire would readily pass for a boy.”
Both Bullion and Kilpatrick were convicted, with Bullion being sentenced to five years in prison and Kilpatrick receiving a 20-year sentence. She served three and a half years before being released in 1905. Kilpatrick was not released from prison until 1911. Laura Bullion moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1918. She supported herself as a householder and seamstress, a drapery maker, dressmaker, and interior designer.
She died of heart failure in 1961 and is buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis. Kilpatrick was killed robbing a train on March 13, 1912.
Joe Walker rode into the fur trade rendezvous on the Green River in Wyoming with an escort of half a dozen trappers and 370 Shoshone Indians. The Green River rendezvous of 1833 was wild and wooly. Tents and teepees stretched for more than 10 miles along the river and immense herds of horses grazed on the surrounding plains. Rowdy attendees engaged in wrestling matches, bragging contests, and roaring drunken brawls. But Walker was not wild and reckless.
He enjoyed Shoshone beauties and racing for money on fast horses. He spent the rendezvous planning and assembling an expedition. The Army had asked him to explore the region west from the Great Salt Lake to California. Walker left the rendezvous with 50 men and 140 horses. Riding west, they entered the vast deserts of the Great Basin where Paiute Indians stole from their camp.
Walker’s men killed a couple of the thieves. The next day, 200 Paiute warriors surrounded the trappers. Using signs, Walker warned the Indians to disperse or be shot. The Paiutes laughed because they had never seen guns. The order was given to shoot and 39 Paiutes fell dead. When the party reached the Sierra Nevada Range the snow was halfway down the mountains. The food rations were exhausted and the men were reduced to eating roots and insects. They spent a month moving along the snow-covered crest of the mountain range, looking for a way down. On October 20, the trappers were on a mile-high cliff, looking down at the Yosemite Valley.
They were the first white men to see it. After five more days they found a steep trail descending the western slopes. A few days later they reached the Pacific Ocean. The Mexican Government offered Walker 30,000 acres of free California land if he would establish a colony of Americans. But the pathfinder refused and headed east to revive his old wandering ways. Walker went on to guide the first wagon trains to California and the first gold miners to Arizona. He bought Spanish horses from Mexican ranches at Los Angeles and sold them in Colorado, Wyoming, and Missouri. The trailblazer retired at a cousin’s ranch in California and died peacefully at the age of 77. The inscription on his tombstone reads,
“Camped at Yosemite Nov. 13, 1833.” Mountain men like Jim Bridges, Kit Carson, and Jedediah Smith are better known to us today, but in his day, Joe Walker was considered by his contemporaries to be the most famous mountain man of all.
John “Portugee” Phillips was born Manual Felipe Cardoso in 1832 near the town of Terra on the island of Pico, in the Azores. At the age of 18, he left the Azores and headed for California to join the ’49 Gold Rush. Phillips followed the lure of gold from California through Oregon and Idaho to Montana. In the summer of 1866 he was prospecting in the Big Horn Mountains when heavy winter snows forced him to seek shelter at Fort Phil Kearny.
That winter, the Second Battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment, under the command of Captain William Fetterman, was stationed at the Fort. In December, a band of Cheyenne and Sioux, under the leadership of Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, lured Fetterman and 80 soldiers into an ambush outside the Fort, where 2,000 Indians attacked them. Fetterman and his entire command were wiped out. Following the defeat of Fetterman, Phillips volunteered to ride 190 miles in subzero weather to deliver official dispatches to Horseshoe Station. The first stop was Fort Reno, which Portugee reached on December 23.
There, he received additional messages to carry from Fort Reno to Fort Laramie. Phillips reached Horseshoe Station at 10:00 a.m. on December 25. The dispatches were wired to the headquarters of the Department of the Platte in Omaha and to Washington, DC. Phillips then went on to Fort Laramie to deliver the messages he had received at Fort Reno. Phillips was carrying mail back to Fort Phil Kearny from Fort Laramie in April 1867, when he found himself surrounded by sixteen Sioux warriors in war paint. The report he wrote of the incident read “without aid of my faithful horse and good revolver, I would have lost my hair, the part of my body I feel most anxious about on the prairies.” Portugee continued to work as a mail courier until he moved to Elk Mountain, where he supplied ties to the railroad in addition to furnishing the army with goods and transportation at Fort Laramie and Fort Fetterman. In 1870, he married Hattie Buck and the couple established a ranch on Chugwater Creek. During a visit to Milwaukee in 1876, Phillips attended a parade in honor of General Ulysses S. Grant, who was running for the presidency. Upon seeing the scout in the crowd, Grant stopped the procession and insisted that Phillips ride with him in his buggy. In 1878, he sold his ranch holdings and moved to Cheyenne. He remained there until his death in 1883.
Hattie died in 1936 at age 94. As the man credited for carrying the news of the Fetterman Disaster through hostile Indian country 236 miles from Fort Phil Kearny to Fort Laramie, John “Portugee” Phillips has long been celebrated as Wyoming’s frontier hero
Robert Woodson “Wood” Hite was an outlaw and first cousin of Frank and Jesse James. He was born in 1850 at Logan, Kentucky to Major George Burns and Nancy Gardner Hite, the sister of Robert Sallee James, who was the father of Frank and Jesse James. After the war, Wood rode with the James-Younger gang, participating in many of the robberies and other crimes the outlaws committed. After the disastrous Northfield Minnesota raid, Jesse needed new gang members. Wood and his brother Clarence joined the band. In early 1881 Wood was arrested for killing a black man named John Tabor. Tabor was shot in cold blood while casually sitting on a fence. Hite escaped from jail before he was brought to trial.
In December of that year, Wood Hite was shot dead by Dick Liddil and Bob Ford, also members of the James-Younger Gang. The death of Wood Hite precipitated the series of events that culminated in the killing of Jesse James. All three were staying at the house of Bob Ford’s widowed sister, Martha Bolton. Wood and Liddil were both attracted to Martha and quarreled over the romantic triangle. The argument developed into a gunfight. Both men drew their guns. They shot at each other repeatedly. Hite was hit in the arm. Then Ford drew his pistol and shot Hite in the head, killing him instantly. Bob and his brother Charley buried Wood in an unmarked grave. In January 1882, Bob Ford and Dick Liddil surrendered to Sheriff Timberlake for Wood Hite’s murder on the condition they would receive pardons and a reward. Bob claimed in January of 1882 he met with Missouri governor Crittenden who agreed to pardon him for the murder of Wood Hite if he would deliver Jesse James, dead or alive. Bob Ford shot Jesse on April 1882 claiming he believed Jesse would kill him after learning of the murder of his first cousin. After the death of Jesse James, Bob Ford stood trial for Wood Hite’s murder and was found guilty. He was later pardoned. In April 1891, Liddil was rearrested for the murder of Hite. He was later released. He died of heart failure three months later. In 1892, Bob Ford opened a saloon in Creede Colorado and was killed by Ed O’Kelly on opening day.